Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of holiday classics that get trotted out each year here’s a special Turkey Day encore of last year’s review of the laughably bad Thanksgiving Day themed slasher movie from the 1980’s. Until someone makes a horror film about a guy in a Pilgrim outfit slashing people this is what we’ve got.
SLASHER IN THE HOUSE (1981) – Category: Enjoyably campy bad movie elevated by kitsch-value in the casting The success of John Carpenter’s Halloween in the late 1970’s launched a frenzy of holiday-themed slasher movies trying to cash in on that film’s success. The most infamous, of course, was the Silent Night, Deadly Night series with the slasher dressed as Santa Claus (and its notorious tag line “You made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas!” ), but other holidays got a customized slasher flick, too, like New Year’s Eve (the hilariously bad New Year’s Evil), Valentine’s Day (the original My Bloody Valentine) and Mother’s Day (in a movie of the same name). It even got so any annual event was fodder for the splatter film industry, as we saw the release of films like the Prom Night movies, April Fool’s Day, Happy Birthday To Me, Graduation Day and The Class Reunion Massacre.
Slasher In The House, also released under the title Home Sweet Home, was a slice ‘em and dice ‘em flick for the Thanksgiving holiday. The kitsch casting comes in the form of Jake “Body By Jake” Steinfeld, workout guru and later the star of the sitcom Big Brother Jake, who plays the slasher in the film. Steinfeld’s performance consists entirely of unintelligible grunts and grimaces, like he’s trying to be a Tor Johnson for the 1980’s.
Jake, typical of an 80’s slasher character, is nigh indestructible, like Jason Voorhees (even before his zombification) and Bartholomew, the killer wearing a Richard Nixon mask in Horror House On Highway 5 (QV). Jake’s character’s nearly superhuman strength and stamina is explained by his addiction to PCP, which we see him injecting under his tongue for gross-out value shortly after he escapes from a mental institution at the beginning of the film. According to this movie PCP even makes you immune to electrical shocks from live wires. Who knew?
An innocent man asking Jake “How about a beer?” prompts his first psychotic murder. Our lead crazy then runs over a senior citizen (whose body apparently contains more blood than any three other people from the amount that comes gushing out) in a stolen car. His flight eventually takes him to a sprawling California ranch where the most dysfunctional family you’ll ever see outside of a reality tv series has gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. These people are so annoying and so incredibly stupid, even for horror film characters, that you’re almost glad to see Jake whittle their numbers down with giddy abandon.
Standouts among the dysfunctional family members include a horny teenager who wears mime music all the time while simultaneously playing his guitar and singing. (Ah, those singing mimes of California!) He is so irritating the way he enjoys interrupting couples making out and drooling over half the female cast members that you’ll wish you could watch his death scene played over and over again on a loop for hours.
One of the men is dating a character named Maria, an aspiring singer who embodies the most outrageous cliches about horny Latina ladies and comes across as a low-rent and sleazy version of Charo. (“How do you solve a stereotype like Ma -reeeeee- ahhhhh?”) Most of the other cast members are faceless and generic Slasher Victims and their names – plus their dialogue – is strictly interchangeable.
Be sure to have your Big Brother Jake jokes at the ready for the part of the film where it looks like an innocent little girl is going to fall victim to our smiler with the knife. Luckily it turns out to be a false scare, as the little girl goes unharmed, kind of like the similar teasing bit in the killer elevator movie The Lift (QV). One final laugh is provided by the unbelievably lame and unimaginative attempt to set up a sequel which never came.
Because I’m basically kind of weird the MOST enjoyable aspect of this movie is the fact that the only two cast members to go on to any noteworthy screen work in addition to this flick are: 1) the one-note Jake and 2) the actress who plays the little girl named Angel. She’s Vinessa (sic) Shaw and she’s been performing steadily in movies and on television all the way to this very day.
I like to think that if any of the other cast members die and go to hell part of their punishment will be Satan showing them footage of Jake’s grunts and screams and Angel’s bland little girl character and then taunt them by saying “And THOSE TWO went on to have MUCH greater show business careers than YOU DID! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!”
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